On Tuesday afternoon, Nashville Predators Chief Executive Officer Jeff Cogen and Chief Operating Officer/President Sean Henry held a roundtable discussion with local media. In the meeting, multiple items were highlighted including the 2014-15 season for the Predators, the 2016 All Star Game and arena renovations.
2014-15 Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators set a franchise record by selling out 30 out of 41 regular season home games. The season also held the second highest capacity just behind the 2013, lockout-shortened season. With the way the team played for the majority of the season, the Predators were always on or near the top of the standings, which made the team difficult to ignore in the rest of the league.
“It was the first regular season that we were top of mind from the moment we started playing hockey right on through through the playoffs,” said Sean Henry.
In regards to the way the regular season ended, Nashville tied its third best finish, points wise, in its history with 104 points. The highest point total finish was in the 2006-07 season where they finished with 110 points, just three points out of first in the league. Other top finishing years were 2011-12 with 104 and 2005-06 with 106.
During the playoffs, the Predators also pulled good local television broadcast numbers.
“We hit a seven and a ten against Chicago,” said Jeff Cogen. “Those are really good numbers. If you look at the report…during the second period of game six in Chicago, I think our peak was a 12. That’s 120,000 people watching the Nashville Predators in this market.”
Web content also grew tremendously during the 2014-15 season. The additions of Brooks Bratten and Thomas Willis added more team content and the Beneath The Ice video series gave fans an inside look at the team. During the past two season seasons, the Predators ranked in the bottom four in regards to web traffic. According to Cogen, in December, Nashville was top five in the NHL. On average for the season, the team ranked in the top half.
Lastly, as the league continues to work on the schedule for the 2015-16 season, Henry noted that the Predators should see the most Saturday home games than in the past five seasons.
2016 NHL All Star Game
Since the announcement of the 2016 NHL All Star Game in Nashville last fall, Predators fans have been wanting to know more details about the event, primarily on tickets. Full season ticket holders should receive information on purchasing these tickets sometimes around May 18th. Once full season ticket holders have their opportunity to buy tickets, then other plans will follow. Read more information on tickets from our interview with Nat Harden.
Along with the All Star Weekend events set to take place in January, the Predators and the NHL will be hosting multiple outdoor events as well. Dubbed the Winter Park, the city will shut down area between 4th Avenue and 6th Avenue and part of Broadway and Demonbruen. The Winter Park will house an outdoor ice rink, concert stage and other various venues that will be free for the community. Nashville plans to begin setting up these festivities in early December so that the community can begin the celebration by mid-December and throughout the All Star Game.
In addition to the Winter Park, the NHL Fan Fair at the Music City Center will be affordable (approximately $15-20). The Predators have made sure to keep this accessible and will provide discounts to season ticket holders, families and children. The plan is also to have season ticket holders be able to preview the NHL Fan Fair on Thursday before open to the general public on Friday of All Star Weekend.
“We want to make sure we’re celebrating hockey for Nashville. Picture CMA Festival meets the All Star Game.” – Sean Henry.
Growth of hockey in middle Tennessee
Since Ford Ice Center (FIC) opened in the summer of 2014, hockey has continued to grow tremendously in the Nashville area. Last season, FIC hosted multiple big events including the rookie tournament that saw rookies and prospects from the Nashville Predators take on the same from Boston, Tampa and Florida. The facility is also set to host the development camp scrimmage in mid July.
The opening of FIC has given the community another outlet for hockey to grow, and the numbers prove it.
“Last season, there were 2,500 USA Hockey registrants,” said Cogen. “This season, there were 3,300. The majority of those came from Ford Ice Center. It’s safe to say, their allegiance is probably with the Predators.”
While there are not any set plans for the next rink-building project, team executives have had multiple meetings with city leaders in Clarksville over the past few months. They’ve also met with leaders in Lebanon and Murfreesboro multiple times.
Renovations to Bridgestone Arena
The arena is moving along with replacing the seats in the entire arena. This offseason, all seats in the lower bowl will be replaced with the ones that were chosen by the fans.
“It will be new concrete work, new handrails, new seats…it’ll feel like a brand new building, which is what we’re going for,” said Henry. “Every year, we want to invest. We’re also going to start renovating all of the bathrooms, too.”
Replacing the seats will be done in phases and between events. For those wondering about the Club Level and Upper Bowl, those seats will be replaced in the next offseason.
There have also been many questions about what will happen to the old seats once taken out. According to Henry, half of the old lower bowl seats will be completely worthless because they were attached to the telescopic bleachers. The others will be saved, some may be available for purchase, others will be donated. The entire process is still being figured out.
“When Tom Cigarran became Chairman, it was very simple what our goal was: to be the best sports and entertainment venue in the country built around a championship team. That’s what we’re going to chase every year. We’re on that path.” – Sean Henry